George Baumanis, 59, of Houston, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Baumanis operated a car dealership called Primus Northwest located at 10600 West Road in Houston. He would browse Internet sites seeking for cars being sold by owners and travel around the country to purchase them.
Owners were persuaded to sell by promising to pay the balance of the note or lease on the cars. In the presence of the owners, checks for payment of the loan or lease in full were mailed and the cars would then be transported to Primus Northwest in Houston where the dealership would attempt to sell them. However, the checks were executed by Primus Northwest but without sufficient funds in the account. The lien holders were never repaid.
In one instance, a victim from Michigan leased a 2010 Volvo S80 from U.S. Bank and later sold the vehicle to Primus Northwest based on the promise to pay off that lease. U.S. Bank received two fraudulent checks from Primus Northwest totaling $22,187.35. No payoff was ever received by U.S. Bank and Baumanis later fraudulently sold the vehicle in Texas.
Dennis Kane was allegedly a partner of Baumanis in this scheme. The case against him is pending and he is presumed innocent unless and until found guilty through due process of law.
U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr., who accepted the guilty plea, has set sentencing for May 23, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. At that time, he faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine. He was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing. d to remain free on bail pending sentencing.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Houston Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jay Hileman is prosecuting.